Friday, October 9, 2009

Sex just keeps getting censored

It still ceases to amaze me. People are so very afraid of sex. Why else would there be so many censorship battles? Self Serve is just two and half years old, and we've had more than our share of brick walls, closed doors and unwanted editing. All in the name of preserving what? Some puritanical fantasy of an asexual, totally repressed world?

Why now do I bring this up? Thanks to an abundance of recent inspiration:
  • Google Checkout, of the all-amazing (and all-powerful) Google, shut down our account after a mere 48 hours of having selfservetoys linked to their shopping results.
Rhode Island deserves sexual pleasure and health!

Seriously? I keep thinking of the SNL weekend update with Amy Poehler and ... where they just get more and more astounded by the stupidity of the actual news. Well, so am I! Megan Andelloux in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, wants to open a welcoming, safe space to learn about sexuality and improve relationships. Megan Andelloux is supported by sex educators, sex therapists, the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists and all her potential business neighbors. But the city is using zoning (as usual) as an excuse to keep her from doing great work. Now she has an expensive legal battle on her hands.

What are you so afraid of, people?! I have to admit, it reminds me of the cold-hearted adult children on Grey's Anatomy last week. I was so proud of the 82-year-old character for pursuing his penile implant. Sure it's not a liver transplant, but if that man wants to enjoy his good health with a new love, that is a beautiful thing! Yet his middle-aged children were embarrassed, critical, condescending and judgmental.

Sex is healthy and pleasure is good for you. This concept is apparently still radical. What a pity.

The first time I got really mad at the all-mighty Google.
How Google felt justified closing our Checkout account is a whole other story of hypocrisy. Self Serve uses Google. We typically love Google. We use Gmail, Google Docs, Picasa, Blogger (apparently) and we were excited to start using Google Checkout. We had our web programmer lady work for hours on setting up a new Google Checkout account. I was so excited for the new visibility for our site. The account went live, and within hours we had new orders. Then within three days, Google closed our account and claim their policies do not allow the sale of adult items.

Well guess where you can find over 5 million pages of shopping results for even one vibrating item in Google Shopping results? Oh, silly me. I thought that policy was bunk since all the most gigantic online retailers seem to be selling adult toys through Google Checkout.

Hmm, how odd. Little companies like the Center for Sexual Health and Pleasure and Self Serve are fought tooth and nail for the basic right to teach healthy, happy sex education, while Amazon, Walgreens,, and others can go on undercutting prices of independent retailers and get away with ignoring Google's anti-adult policies.

Unfortunately, we're not new to this whole censorship thing...

If you are new to the world of Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center, here are a few more reasons we get fed up with censorship:

  • Banks won't lend to any sex education business. Even with the economy in a slump, no SBA loans for new businesses teaching sex education. Even when we won an award for our business plan, no institutional lender would touch us. Instead, we found 9-plus amazing real people willing to help fund our start-up.
  • Four landlords in Albuquerque said no to us before we found a retail space.
  • Our Pornotopia independent erotic film festival is awaiting another court decision about zoning violations in 2008. We'll keep you posted as this year's festival approaches.
  • We once had to fight to publish a subtle picture of a bunny when designing a $700 magazine advertisement.
  • Online merchant service-providers say no to adult web sites of any kind.
  • After paying hundreds of dollars for insurance for over a year, our provider gave us 30 days to find a new underwriter -- because of what we sell.
  • We once donated a silent auction item worth $50 to support continuing education for teen moms. The auction organizer rejected our donation. We found out only after the fundraiser.
So how do we cope without pulling our hair out?

Yes, of course the first obvious answer is therapeutic masturbation. But after you finish your nap- then what? The world is slowly changing, minds are opening and powers-that-be are recognizing the possibility of healthy, empowered sexuality for all. But change will not arrive without speaking out and taking action. Here are some suggestions.

  • Pay attention. Speak Out. When voices are not being heard -anyone's voice- free speech is being censored. As Audre Lorde famously stated, "Your silence will not protect you."
  • Support small, local and minority-owned businesses. Your money is exponentially more likely to stay in your community.
  • If you believe in the right to a sex-positive life- support free speech and sex education.
  • Support Megan's effort to open the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health in Pawtucket, RI. We're getting more action steps from her soon!
  • Attend Pornotopia Erotic Film Festival in Albuquerque, NM!
  • Support your local ACLU!

1 comment:

earlytobed said...

Oh I hear you! As a sex shop owner I have experienced ALL the things that you have as far as funding, renting, merchant services and such. And Seriously, how does get away with using google carts when you can't? Fuckers.